It’s First Kiss Friday and it’s always a pleasure when I can bring back my dear friend, Jude Knight. When we get to celebrate a new release, well… that’s even better. We hope you enjoy this excerpt from Unkept Promises. You’re going to just love this book! Happy reading and enjoy.
Seven years after he wed her and left, they meet again
The child bride Jules left in England has changed. She is all grown up and here, uninvited, in his Cape Town house. As they work together to nurse his dying mistress and look after his children, he begins to see that he needs to change as well. In the following excerpt from Unkept Promises, they finally have their first kiss.
Another piercing look, remembered anguish blazing from his eyes. “It could have been so different.” He put the brandy down to rise and take the two steps needed to drop to his knees at her feet, his hands reaching to frame her face. “I have nightmares, thinking about what I might have come home to, if you had not arrived. I can’t imagine how I would feel now, leaving port knowing that I had to depend on hired servants for the safety of my family. I can never thank you enough.”
He leaned forward to press a gentle kiss to her forehead, and she put her arms around him, hugging him close. “Ah, Jules. I have only done what I thought right. Besides, I love them. I do not need thanks for looking after the people I love.”
He lifted her chin and began kissing the tears from her cheeks. She shifted so that a kiss fell on the corner of her mouth, and he pulled back a little, but only to say, “It was the luckiest night of my life when I was captured by smugglers and locked up with you.”
Disappointed that he had stopped, she grumbled, “You didn’t think so at the time.” This seduction would never happen if she left it all to him. She summoned her courage and put her hands on his face to keep it still before pressing her mouth on his. He’d better take the hint, because she had no idea what she was doing.
His lips froze, and she almost pulled away, and then, thank goodness, they softened on hers and began to move. Was that his tongue, sweeping across the seam of her mouth? Those were certainly his teeth, nibbling at her lower lip until she gasped at the wonderful sensations that reverberated through her whole body, and would have gasped again when his tongue invaded her mouth, except her mouth was full and she could manage nothing more than a strangled moan.
He clearly took that as approval, for he deepened the kiss, pressing her back against her chair, his body firm against hers, his face angled to allow him to invade even deeper. No. Not an invasion, for she had invited him in. His tongue retreated and then returned, retreated and returned, until she took the hint and allowed her own tongue to follow his. Ah. This invasion could be reciprocal, and she could make him moan, too.
She applied herself enthusiastically to mimicking his actions, learning what he taught, sinking deeper and deeper into the sensations he created.
A timeless period later, Jules ended the kiss; not releasing her but drawing back enough to meet her eyes, his own hot. “Sweet Mia, even then I could tell you’d make a rare woman. Brave, clever, caring. I saw all of that. I knew you’d be pretty, too.”
She wanted to trust he meant it, but it was a little much to swallow. “How can you say that? I look like a boy!”
Jules’s laugh was disbelieving. “Never! A boy?” His hands rounded her body to run over her breasts, paused briefly to cup them, brushed over her nipples which had somehow become so hard that they ached, then skimmed down to her waist. He spread his thumb and fingers to span her waist on both sides. “I can almost touch my fingers together. You are perfect.”
Did he really think so? “I barely have any curves at all,” Mia protested.
Jules pressed a quick kiss to her mouth, as if to stop her words. “I beg to differ.” He moved his hands, one scooping under her buttocks and half lifting her from the chair, the other coming up to once again cup a breast, the thumb rubbing back and forth across the nipple. “Look. Beautifully curved.”
She could barely think as his movement both relieved and intensified the near pain in her nipple. “So small!” she pointed out. “Gerta–”
Another firm quick kiss. “Does not belong between us. Mia, do you not know I have been lusting after you since I arrived home?” Kiss. “Feeling bad about it, too, when at the beginning I thought you had moved Kirana out of her room and dismissed Maureen. I felt the lowest of dogs to desire such a woman.” Kiss. “But as I learned the truth and got to know you, admiring you more and more each day, my desire grew.” His hand kept moving, and the other pulled her closer, until she was plastered to his body, groin to groin, the hardness behind his falls rubbing close to the place of sudden, desperate need. Beguiled, she shifted against him.
“Ah, Mia,” he groaned, “can’t you tell what you do to me? Sleeping in the room next to me while I lie awake, night after night, imagining you are in the bed with me and I can, at last, worship you with my body as I promised so long ago?”
His mouth was on hers again, and his lips, his tongue, his teeth, his hands, his hard body, all drove her to a place where she no longer knew where she was and barely who she was. She only knew that she yearned, hungered, ached—and that Jules could answer that need.
Then he pulled away, and she reached after him before her mind registered what he’d already heard—a burst of conversation as the kitchen door opened and shut again, and then footsteps approaching.
Jules was already back in his seat, his brandy glass in his hand. His hair was ruffled, his neckcloth half untied, but he had shrugged his coat back on as he crossed the room. She caught a glimpse of red swollen lips before he raised the glass to cover them.
She pulled her shawl over a bare breast she didn’t remember Jules exposing, and grabbed her own glass, just as Fortune came through the room on his way to check on the door.
She wants to negotiate a comfortable marriage; he wants her in his bed
Naval captain Jules Redepenning has spent his adult life away from England, and at war. He rarely thinks of the bride he married for her own protection, and if he does, he remembers the child he left after their wedding seven years ago. He doesn’t expect to find her in his Cape Town home, a woman grown and a lovely one, too.
Mia Redepenning sails to Cape Town to nurse her husband’s dying mistress and adopt his children. She hopes to negotiate a comfortable married life with the man while she’s there. Falling in love is not on her to-do list.
Before they can do more than glimpse a possible future together, their duties force them apart. At home in England, Mia must fight for the safety of Jules’s children. Imprisoned in France, Jules must battle for his self-respect and his life.
Only by vanquishing their foes can they start to make their dreams come true.
Not your usual Regency: Jude Knight writes historical fiction with a large helping of romance, a splash of Regency, and a side order of suspense.
Jude’s Bookshop: https://judeknight.selz.com/item/unkept-promises
About Jude Knight:
Have you ever wanted something so much you were afraid to even try? That was Jude ten years ago.
For as long as she can remember, she’s wanted to be a novelist. She even started dozens of stories, over the years.
But life kept getting in the way. A seriously ill child who required years of therapy; a rising mortgage that led to a full-time job; six children, her own chronic illness… the writing took a back seat.
As the years passed, the fear grew. If she didn’t put her stories out there in the market, she wouldn’t risk making a fool of herself. She could keep the dream alive if she never put it to the test.
Then her mother died. That great lady had waited her whole life to read a novel of Jude’s, and now it would never happen.
So Jude faced her fear and changed it–told everyone she knew she was writing a novel. Now she’d make a fool of herself for certain if she didn’t finish.
Her first book came out to excellent reviews in December 2014, and the rest is history. Many books, lots of positive reviews, and a few awards later, she plans to keep publishing until she runs out of years.